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The art of successful influencer marketing varies heavily from brand to brand, and while there is no one size fits all method, there are a few key components that make a robust plan. So, while many brands know that including influencer marketing in the mix has a ton of value, the question still remains: How do you put together a plan that is inspiring and actionable? This article will further outline what to consider when putting together your strategy and demonstrate a few examples of brands who, based on their campaigns and content, have a clear strategy that is consistent.
Why an Influencer Marketing Strategy?
Like any function of your marketing strategy, it's important to put pen to paper and create a document that you and your team can refer back to. Having a separate and distinct influencer marketing plan is important because depending on how much digital plays a role in your overarching plan, this aspect will either act as the driving force behind your marketing efforts or fit into larger brand initiatives.
Now that we've addressed the "why," this next section will outline a few details to consider that will help inform how you put together an influencer marketing strategy that is right for your brand.
KPIs + Objectives
Perhaps most importantly, what is your brand's objective for working with influencers? What are a few KPIs (key performance indicators - like engagement or impressions) that you want set as benchmarks to assess the performance of your strategy? While it's fun and inspiring to put together the creative and community- building elements of an influencer marketing plan, objectives are equally important to consider and will set a foundation for how you can best measure the success of your influencer marketing strategy.
Best Practices + Trends
Once you've nailed down the rationale behind why your brand may want to work with influencers, an appropriate next step would be to understand the different avenues for collaboration, both online and offline. From sponsored content series to large-scale influencer trips and events, there are many opportunities to work with influencers. Fleshing out what these activations look like should also depend on the objectives of your plan (driving sales vs. brand awareness) along with essential logistics. It's also helpful to look at what's popular (or not being done enough) in the space based on your industry.
Logistics + Brand Guidelines
With the above in mind, it's important to develop the logistics and technical details of your influencer marketing plan in tandem with the creative. These aspects include budget, timelines, and other expenses that might be incurred from working with influencers which can include travel, food/beverage, and product gifting. Additionally, it's important to understand how to best integrate and communicate your brand ethos into your influencer marketing plan, so your influencers have a clear understanding of who you are and what you stand for. If you don't already have a document or brand book, this presents a natural opportunity to build one, which will set up your influencers (and any outside partners) for success!
Feedback + Audience
Finally, it's important to understand your audience and their needs. If you have experience in the space and you're redoing your influencer marketing strategy from scratch, go back through the archives and see what's resonated and performed well from past initiatives.
If you're a newer brand who is just starting to work with influencers, start a conversation with your audience to see if this kind of content is something they're interested in seeing. Because the nature of influencer marketing is so collaborative and community-based, feedback is crucial and will help refine your strategy so that it caters to not only your objectives but your audience's interests.
"It's important to understand how to best communicate your brand ethos into your influencer marketing plan."
Even with the above in mind, if you're still having trouble envisioning what your influencer marketing playbook should look like, this section will share a couple of notable examples of brands who are using influencer marketing as the backbone of their strategy. First up, let's look at Aerie (@aerie). The casual intimates and lifestyle brand has risen to prominence thanks to their #AerieReal initiative that calls for no retouching in their campaign imagery. This also extends to their short-form social media and influencer posts. The brand often reposts images of bloggers and influencers who embody the lifestyle on their Instagram. They also feature and work with influencers on custom content as evidenced on their brand blog, and even on bigger ambassadorships spanning across their website and social channels.
This approach to influencer marketing is practical as it spans across channels, opening up Aerie more brand awareness and access to content (both original and UGC). Fossil is another excellent example of successful influencer marketing. As a heritage brand, Fossil has done a fantastic job at keeping up with current trends while remaining true to one of their core products: the watch. If you look at their #FossilStyle hashtag on Instagram, the brand thoughtfully curates an array of lifestyle posts from influencers throughout the world who embody the brand's bold, classic aesthetic. Additionally, Fossil works with more established influencers on larger campaigns and partnerships — look at their "Shop By Influencer" page on their website which features curated products from leading influencers.
These edits are also tied together by supporting feature and interview content with the participating influencers on Fossil's blog. This strategy is holistic and also effective as it caters to both men and women which allows the brand to capture markets they might not typically have direct access to (or influence within).
The how-to of putting together your strategy will vary based on your brand and the above details, but it's important to remember that this should be a working document!
Having a strong brand marketing plan with a fluid influencer marketing section will help your team stay focused with clearly defined touchpoints. In fact, here at PLANOLY, we're working hard to develop more tools and resources for marketers to create seamless strategies for both their social media and influencer marketing efforts. Stay tuned as we roll out a couple of new helpful features!